Friday, October 31, 2014

I DIDN'T SEE THIS COMING! (Memoirs of a Comic Fanatic) (Guest Post)

There was a minute silence. He took a look at my work on his laptop, paused, looked at me, then looked back at the screen of his system. I wondered what was going through his mind.

"Sir, I'm afraid your work won't sell", he shot at me.

"Pardon???". My throat suddenly developed an unusual dryness. I heard him but then it sounded like I didn't.

I had been carrying this comic work about for close to four years now, going from pillar to post, looking for a publisher with no meaningful outcome. The life of an hustler...

"Mr Makinde, you heard me. Your work won't sell. I mean, look around you, who still reads comics in this environment?", he swallowed a lump.

"Your story-line is good, very good but then the truth be told, you're using the wrong medium to propagate the right message. I'll advise you come up with a book, convert this whole thing from a comic to a novel or you come up with something more kindergarten, like Mickey Mouse etc that'll attract the kids. When you've decided let me know."

He sounded sarcastic to me. "So you won't publish this?". It wasn't actually a question I was asking but rather I was pleading with the entirety of my being. I was crestfallen.

"No I can't, I'm a businessman. It's not good business. My time with you is up. I have another meeting to catch up on. Have a lovely day."

That was several years ago and I've often pondered on what kept me going when no one could see what I was seeing, when I got what seemed like a thousand 'nos' from different quarters. Even some people considered me weird. The life of a visionary could sometimes be a very lonely path but then it could also be very interesting. You would want to know if I took the publisher's suggestions. No I didn't. A year later I got my work published. It didn't do too well in the market but then I wasn't discouraged. I was seeing a bigger picture and I wasn't there yet so I had to keep moving.

Even though it's over eighteen years now that I've been drawing, creating and developing concepts for comic works, I never even knew there was a Nigerian Comic Industry until a few years ago. All i wanted was to draw, follow my passion and make a mark. Interestingly enough the comic industry in Nigeria has evolved over the years. From the days of the Papa Ajasco Comic (I'm sure a lot of you will remember the brand) to the days of Skybond Comics in the mid '90s and now from all indications things are getting better for the industry. But then, there is still a long way to go as a lot of people within this environment continue to view comics as a kindergarten thing.

It is worthy of note that apart from the genres of creative writing and poetry, comics are another aspect of art that people within this environment are yet to fully explore and maximize. It is, in my opinion, a strong medium of expression because it combines elements of creative writing, fine art and concept development to create a unique work of art rich in imagery which sticks stronger to the human mind.

If you ask me, the Nigerian Comic Industry is an industry to watch out for in the days to come.

I have looked back at this interesting odyssey of mine through the years and I've had to ask myself over and over again, "How did i get here?".

From the release of my first notable title- Distorted (I said 'notable' because i had been drawing and making comics right from my primary school days without publishing them) to my second title 'Futureology' which was a big hit and huge success. Wait a minute, how do we measure success? For me, success is measured by the level of impact your work is able to make, how well you are able to connect with your audience. Success to you may mean going to the bank with a fat cheque from the sale of a published title......perhaps you're right. Success means different things to different people. I still remember vividly how i got an anonymous text message a few days after Futurology was released telling me how deeply the work had impacted her life. That was one out of several accounts that followed. I was touched.

Then came my third title 'Iyanda' which I consider to be the work that gave me the needed quantum leap.

After Iyanda I wanted to take a break from comics. Rid myself, at least for a while, of this strange passion that has possessed me for over eighteen years. Focus on other things.

I didn't see this coming, I didn't even plan for it until it dropped with a big bang! It was the idea and concept for another work. Though short and concise, this was more than just another work.

'MAZINGI THE GREAT' my upcoming work has a key assignment it 'must' deliver. It is a revolutionary work different from any I've conceived. It'll be out in digital format in December.

Expect it!

- Ayo Makinde Esq. Follow him on Facebook.

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